We are greeted by our host, Jay Mohr, who is standing in the middle of Times Square, and who is wearing what looks like an ensemble lifted from Pierce Brosnan’s closet. He informs us that Last Comic Standing is back, after Dat Phan and his gravity-defying hair, with the help of the ignorant American Idol public, upset Ralphie May in the finals last season. Dat then comes on to remind us of how he went from sleeping under a desk to appearing on the Tonight Show (telling the same freaking jokes for the 200th time, btw), which reminds us ever so subtly that dreams can come true. Oh. Yes. They. Can. (Unless, of course, you’re actually funny. In which case, it’s back to trying to eke out a living in the world of drunks, insomniacs, and bars that have a smoky haze thicker than your average NORML convention.) Oh, it’s a warm-your-heart, rags-to-riches, Cinderella-boy-on-the-18th-at-Augusta story which sets up the viewer to wonder which unknown comic will emerge from the depths of obscurity to be the next Dat Phan?
That? Should be a federal crime, because, my friends, this season will bear little to no resemblance to the last one. Why, you may ask? Oh you’ll see. You’ll see, alright.
HUGE “open calls” are promised in eight, count them EIGHT cities across the country. They will leave no rock unturned in this talent search. No sirree. Then the thousands will be culled by the masters that are the producers and the guys who book for the unfunniest guy with a regular TV gig and some very important comedic legends (whose opinions will be discarded like each of their careers in TV, per section 42, subsection 8, paragraph 15, lines 4-17 of their contract—which, as it happens, is right after the part about their per diem.) to a magical, golden field of 10. Those 10 will live in a house, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then they will eat each other for several weeks like betta fish in a bowl. Finally, a winner voted on by YOU the voting public (and not rigged in any way, shape, or form, so sayeth the honorable folks at The Peacock), and that winner will get a “special” NBC development deal (which has done wonders for the career of one Tom Papa, I can tell you), one (1) Comedy Central special (not to be redeemed during certain black-out dates), and, apparently, some sort of telekinetic ability that will allow them passage through doors otherwise closed and locked with a bazillion deadbolts. David Blaine, eat your heart out.
Your Cruise Directors Talent Scouts are Bob Read and Ross Mark, two completely indistinguishable and extremely pale hacks, who book for Leno.
Los Angeles casting call
(Important note: I’m not going to bother much with detailing every stinking person NBC saw fit to jam down our pieholes, because A) 95% of them aren’t relevant, B) most of them sucked supremely, C) I have very little patience for attention whores whose only purpose in standing in line for 86 consecutive hours is to make a complete jack-ass out of themselves on national TV so they can watch this episode with their equally stupid friends and jump around like an aroused chimpanzee when they get their five seconds of airtime, and D) this episode of little consequence was Two. Hours. Long. I’m sorry, I’m tight like that. The good news for you is that you don’t have to sit through the utterly embarrassing sets of the guy in lederhosen, the guy who had a TV on a dummy’s torso, the extremely bad ventriloquist, or the guy with the jock strap over his face. I did, and I’m not getting those minutes back. Ever.)
After a parade of losers that make NAMBLA look like a group you’d like to picnic with, we get our first glimpse of the sublime “Buck Star Show”. Buck Star is a wannabe surf punk with a porn star’s name. He has no talent whatsoever, but he makes up for that with shamelessness on a massive scale. He will be back, but not tonight at the callback.
Next up is Joe Hursley. Joe has not been keeping up with his medication, and my mother told me never to laugh at the mentally ill, so his “humor” was lost on me. He’s not unlike the guy on the subway who talks to himself and whom you do everything in your power not to make eye contact with. Inexplicably, he gets a callback. Must’ve been a long day.
Shortly after Joe, our two talent scouts slip in a little comment about how people they’ve booked on Leno and Letterman are auditioning. Say whaa? I thought one of the primary conditions of eligibility last year was that you couldn’t have appeared on Leno or Letterman. Actually, I think that’s a pretty good condition, but I guess NBC doesn’t trust these two waste-oids to be able to, y’know, do their friggin’ jobs as talent scouts, and thus they’ve dropped the condition and stocked the pond, and not just in a Rich-Vos-as-The-Don kinda way.
The next two through the door are Todd Glass and Kathleen Madigan. Huh? No don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against either of them. In fact I think they’re both above average comedians, but here’s the thing—they’ve both been on Leno and have had their own Comedy Central special. Isn’t this a bit like letting Michael Bolton audition for American Idol? Needless to say, they both advance to the semi-finals in New York.
Also advancing to the 40-person semi-finals is, Triana, the stripper with a heart of gold and a Britney Spears-esque schoolgirl uni. I’m sure it was sheer talent that got her there. I wouldn’t know for sure, because by wasting time with the exceptionally untalented, we only get about 30 seconds of everyone’s act. And I gotta say, if they’re showing us the A material, it’s gonna be a long season. But I digress.
Ant, the flamingly gay body builder from last season’s preliminary rounds gets a bid, too. Clearly he has compromising pictures of someone high up the chain.
Moving on, but otherwise unremarkable are Monty Hoffman as "the curmudgeon", Corey Holcomb as “the big black guy”, Bonnie McFarlane as “the edgy chick”, Alonzo Bodden as “the angry black guy”, Jimmy Dore as “the smart-ass”, Tammy Pescatelli as “the stereotypically annoying Italian woman” and Retha Jones as “the black woman with an attitude”.
Jay London, a man who looks like a troll with incredibly bad posture and Kenny G’s hair, and who, quite frankly, makes me really uncomfortable (and you need to know how hard it is to make me really uncomfortable) also moves on to NYC.
Pablo Francisco, another person with a Comedy Central special under his belt and a gig on Mad TV, gets an invite, rounding out the field from LA. Next stop, San Francisco.